Good Morning, Zooplankton

Good Morning, Zooplankton

Snap quiz. Pencils out, notebooks away. What are zooplankters? What do zooplankton feed upon? Why are plankton important? How does knowing anything about plankton help you find fish?

Exchange papers. One wrong and you flunk. (C'mon, people. You're supposed to know this stuff.)

Zooplankters are microscopic animals that include grazers that feed upon phytoplankton (microscopic plants) or detritus, and predators that feed on other zooplankton and, in some cases, larval fish and invertebrate larvae.


Phytoplankton is the foundation of the aquatic food chain. It produces oxygen. Oceanic plankton creates up to 85% of the oxygen you take in with every breath. Phytoplankton is diurnal, meaning it moves up-and-down in daily cycles, according to light levels. Zooplankton follows along.


Predators like bluegills follow the zooplankton. Predators like crappies follow the shiners and shad that follow the plankton. Predators like muskies cruise beneath these floating food chains to feed on the bluegills, crappies, ciscoes, and other fish attracted to the minnows attracted to the plankton. These floating food chains can be concentrated or scattered by wind patterns over days and weeks. Steady winds over a period of days can concentrate these gypsy food chains along shorelines and all connected points, reefs, humps, weedlines, and breaks.


That's one string. Pull a string, catch a fish. Everything is connected. You and phytoplankton, for instance. Your survival is plugged directly to the base of the aquatic food chain. In fact, you stand but small chance of surviving without it. That's why one wrong flunks the quiz. No room for error.

Shouldn't plankton be more interesting than that new app on your cell phone? We can't build a blade of grass, let alone a single plankter or amoeba. We can't breathe without plankton. But we certainly know how to entertain ourselves with the toys we can make. Reminds me of Ernest Scwhiebert's fly-fishing tale called The Platforms of Despair. He gives up on the giant Atlantics in Norway's Steeplechase (which is 8 miles long but falls 4 miles)  to play with sea-run brown trout at the river's mouth. The lodge owner finds him, shakes his head and says, "I show you tigers and you play with pussy cats."

An intuitive naturalist with no sonar, GPS, or any other kind of electronics stands a good chance of finding better fishing than many a weekend warrior, simply by knowing something about plankton, baitfish, predators, wind, seasons, and food chains.


Recommended for You

This is not your run-of-the-mill fish recipe! Buttery, savory pecans are seasoned up to make an irresistible and addictive crust for catfish fillets Fish Recipes

Pecan-Crusted Catfish Fillets Recipe

Emilie Bailey

This is not your run-of-the-mill fish recipe! Buttery, savory pecans are seasoned up to make...

Catch those weary crappie with this technique! Panfish

Dock Shooting Crappies

Matt Straw - July 03, 2018

Catch those weary crappie with this technique!

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with homemade chips and tartar sauce. Fish Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

Selective Harvest Yellow Bass

Selective Harvest Yellow Bass

In order to sustain good fishing, it's important to understand which to release and fish you should for a fine meal.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

See More Stories

More Biology

From ancient times, hunters and fishermen have noted that the moon's position and brightness seemed Biology

Understanding Moon Phases

Steve Quinn - April 29, 2015

From ancient times, hunters and fishermen have noted that the moon's position and brightness...

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

Traveling through darkness with hours to go; trying to reach a river just before daybreak. The sky Biology

Water Level Savvy

Matt Straw - May 02, 2015

Traveling through darkness with hours to go; trying to reach a river just before daybreak. The...

See More Biology

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.